Volunteers take five (motionless minutes) for respect

BY SCOTT RAYNOR | APRIL 14, 2009 7:40 AM

Roughly 70 people walking through the Old Capitol Town Center froze at the sound of a bell on Monday.

The volunteers — made up of UI students, Iowa City residents, and Rape Victim Advocacy Program members — stayed motionless for five minutes between 12:10 and 12:15 p.m., catching the attention of passersby.

“I was a little weirded out; I thought maybe I should be stopped,” UI student Naomi Kenimer said. “It just makes you stop and think.”

At the sound of a bell from the mall’s second floor, volunteers posed in various positions to demonstrate healthy relationships. The group moved again after a second bell rang exactly five minutes later.

The event, Take Five for Respect, is one of a series of public events planned by RVAP during April, which is National Sexual-Assault Awareness Month.

The goal of the demonstration was to raise awareness about sexual assault and provide positive models for healthy relationships, RVAP Executive Director Karla Miller said.

“The idea was to do something memorable that focused on people being respectful to one another,” she said. “We want to be able to draw attention to respect during Sexual-Assault Awareness Month.”

“The message of healthy relationships and respect will go beyond this day with the video,” said Alondra Canizal, RVAP’s prevention education coordinator.

Some of the resources RVAP provides are a 24-hour crisis line for victims of sexual crime, a sexual-assault center, and support groups.

According to RVAP’s website, 77 calls reporting rapes were recorded in Iowa City in 2008 — all by UI students.

Canizal said the organization extends its sexual-abuse education to the community in a variety of ways, from handing out safety whistles in coffee shops to putting messages in corsages that advise respectful ways to treat a prom date.

“If we put materials in a way that is accessible to people, in a way that is not intimidating to people, then we’re letting them know the service is here,” Canizal said.

Another RVAP demonstration, the Clothesline Project, will take place on April 22. Volunteers will hang T-shirts created by victims of sexual assault and domestic violence around the Pentacrest.

“[Sexual assault survivors] would make T-shirts that represented what happened to them, made as a healing statement and as a rejection of sexual violence,” said Diane Funk, RVAP’s assistant director.

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